For the fifth time in six years, Odell Beckham Jr. was able to generate 200+ fantasy points. While Beckham had decent fantasy value, his weekly fantasy output was lackluster. Cleveland’s chaos and dysfunction hindered the entire offense and are the most significant detriments to OBJ’s success. Freddie Kitchens’ subpar play-calling also prevented fantasy success for most Cleveland players in 2019. Fortunately for Cleveland, they replaced Kitchens with former Vikings OC, Kevin Stefanski. However, OBJ might not get an opportunity to play for Stefanski, considering that he has been a rumored trade target for the Minnesota Vikings.
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Last season, Odell had a solid season, hauling in 74 receptions, 1,035 receiving yards, and 4 TDs. Although he was disappointing in fantasy football because he only averaged 12.6 fantasy points per game for a grand total of 201.3 fantasy points. This fantasy average was the lowest of OBJ’s career by far and caused a lot of frustration for his fantasy managers. The silver lining from Odell’s 2019 season is that he racked up 1,000+ receiving yards for the fifth season in six years (Beckham only played four games in 2017). This feat indicates that yardage isn’t a significant issue for Beckham in most contests. However, his declining TD numbers over the past three years signal that his ceiling is lower than elite WRs.
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Looking into next season, Odell Beckham Jr. projects to be the 20th-ranked WR, and a low-end tier four WR in PPR leagues. This regression is a little exaggerated because the Browns were a disappointment last season. Moreover, OBJ will likely encounter some regression considering that the Browns have a crowded receiving corps. In fact, the addition of TE Austin Hooper will especially lower most Browns receivers’ target share numbers. Therefore, fantasy managers need to be cautious before drafting OBJ or any other Browns players.
Percentage of games held to less than 30 yards receiving for 5 highest paid receivers:
Amari Cooper 31%
Tyreek Hill 19%
Julio Jones 8%
Odell Beckham Jr. 7%
Michael Thomas 3%
— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) April 3, 2020
Auction Value: $25
These values might seem low, but both are fair, considering that the 2020 receiving group is stocked with talent. There will be plenty of opportunities to get a high-end WR in early rounds, and that’s without taking future rookie WRs into consideration. Therefore, you don’t have to rush to pick up OBJ because his ceiling isn’t as high as wideouts like Michael Thomas, De’Andre Hopkins, or Julio Jones. Although given his steady production throughout most of his career, OBJ’s auction price is a better bargain than WRs like Tyler Boyd or Tyler Lockett.
The good news for prospective OBJ managers is that he has a higher floor than most of his peers. His stellar route running and deep-threat ability signals that he won’t have much trouble getting yardage every week. Therefore, his floor probably won’t get under tier four status. However, if Beckham does get traded to Minnesota, his floor and ceiling will each rise because he will be in a less crowded receiving corps.
Beckham’s ceiling is limited because he was not productive in the red-zone last year. In fact, he only ranked 28th in red-zone targets last season, which was a severe decrease compared to his previous seasons. This further indicates that Cleveland is more crowded than he was accustomed to in New York. As a result, it will be difficult for him to be a reliable TD machine.
Even though OBJ projects to rack up quality yardage, he probably won’t have career-high stats. It will be especially challenging to assert himself in Cleveland’s offense since his teammate, Jarvis Landry, has ranked in the top-ten across the league in targets for three straight seasons. Consequently, Odell Beckham Jr.’s ceiling is slated to be a borderline tier-three receiver.
Cleveland Browns Offense
The move from Kitchens to Stefanski will make the Browns offense look entirely different. For starters, Stefanski’s system will be more run-oriented than Kitchens’ was. This will benefit players like Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt because Stefanski emphasizes play action to open up the run game. Moreover, Stefanski likes to dump the ball to RBs, which will poach targets away from Beckham and other wideouts. Chubb hasn’t been the most productive receiving back, but he and Kareem Hunt will still get a fair share of targets in Kevin Stefanski’s offense.
According to Sports Illustrated, Stefanski said his scheme will be more aggressive than last year. Therefore, OBJ should still get some explosive play opportunities every so often. Additionally, the play-action game should help Beckham get wide open, leading to a sharp increase in yards after the catch. Nevertheless, most Browns receivers should expect to see a drop in targets, receptions, yardage, and touchdowns.
Strength of Schedule
The AFC North will obviously be the most essential division for Beckham because of his divisional matchups. The Steelers project to be his toughest contest because they are stingy against WR fantasy points, and are a top-three efficient defense against the pass. Likewise, Baltimore will be a challenging matchup because Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, and Jimmy Smith make up a formidable CB unit. Cincinnati isn’t as generous to fantasy WRs as many assume, but their lackluster efficiency signals that they will be a weaker defense, barring any unforeseen moves.
Beckham’s best fantasy games project to come against the NFC East and fantasy managers should start him against those teams. The Eagles surrendered third-most WR fantasy points last season, and unless they have Darius Slay shadow OBJ the whole game, he will likely go off. Washington has a similar situation because Kendall Fuller is a decent CB, but there won’t be much CB help behind him.
Odell’s return against the Giants will probably be his easiest contest of the year because James Bradberry is the only CB who can cover high-end WRs. Nevertheless, Beckham will not have much trouble shaking him and will dust past Deandre Baker. Dallas would have been tough if they kept Byron Jones, but without him, Chidobe Awuzie will struggle to fend off OBJ.
Outside these divisions, there are not many significant games. Of the remaining games, the Colts, Raiders, and Jets project to be easy matchups because they were two of the ten most generous fantasy defenses in 2019. Houston also looks to be an easy matchup from an efficiency standpoint, but this is subject to change as the season inches closer.
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